Throwing Our Hands Up

December 4, 2014


This is me and my brother.  In this photo he is a kid of 18 at his high school graduation party.  He’s a grown man now, but to many people he’s a threat no matter what his age may be.  He was taught from the time he was a small boy to conduct himself in a certain way with the police.  To be respectful.  That you say “yes sir,” to police officers and comply with whatever they tell you to do. To keep himself safe.He grew up using paintball guns, bb guns, and real rifles for hunting.    He’s been pulled over for driving while black.  He had to change schools because he was taunted daily for being black.  His white female friend who asked him to the junior prom was forbidden go with him because he is black. What he has experienced at this point in his young life is mild compared to what many people in large cities deal with on a daily basis.  But it is no less frustrating.  When does one get fed up and tired of being singled out when they’ve done nothing wrong?  Really, how much humiliation can a person take? When does enough become enough and rage begins to take over? 


When my brother was a teenager I told him that getting a college education would give him an advantage, and as a black man he needed all the advantages he could get.  I was wrong.  Even though he has a Bachelor’s degree he could be shot for merely walking down the street.  Even though he’s never been arrested for anything he could be killed simply because of the color of his skin.  Not only by cops in positions of authority, but by self-appointed “neighborhood watchmen” like George Zimmerman. 


His death could be caught on video, caused by a forbidden chokehold  for no reason except asking police to stop harassing him.  “B-b-but Eric Garner had been arrested in the past for selling untaxed single cigarettes!” So fucking what (and anyone who hasn’t been living under a rock for the past 50 years knows that they’re called loosies). That is not what he was doing at the time they attacked him, and since when did it become an offense punishable by death?  It’s New York City, for chrissakes.  Don’t cops have murderers and rapists and thieves to arrest and bring to trial?  It’s time for these police forces to take a good look in the mirror and get their priorities straight. 


The goddamn mayor of New York City has to tell his biracial son to be wary of the very people who are supposed to be protecting him.  The people who are supposed to be protecting all of us.  Don’t get me wrong, I know plenty of police officers who are great. Amazing people who really, truly became cops to help those who need it.  Let’s keep them and get rid of the incompetent, psychotic assholes who should not be anywhere near weapons or positions of authority. 


Idiot entitled white people say “Oh, they’re showing pictures of these “thugs” smiling with their families to garner sympathy."  No, they’re showing photos that captured moments in the lives of human beings.  HUMAN BEINGS.  Race is a social construct that was designed millennia  ago to control and dehumanize.  It’s a fact.  Not an opinion, fact. 


I am so sick of hearing thoughtless white men bitch about how they are the disenfranchised ones. 

“White male privilege?  Where do I get me some of this?  I’ve worked hard for all I have, and that black guy I work with only got his position because of affirmative action……Blah, blah blah.” 


Bully for you for working hard!  All of us peons have to work extra hard if we want to survive in the new Corporate States of America.  Millions of minorities and women have worked two, three, four, times as hard and are passed over for promotions and paid lower salaries because of their ethnicity and/or gender.   If you think differently you are fooling yourself. 


“Well, look at the President.  He’s black, so we must be living in a post-racial (whatever that means) society.  Racism is over and white privilege does not exist anymore.”


Uh-huh, okay.  Keep your heads in the sand, intellectually lazy white people (also known as Fox News pundits).  I’d also love to know where the Libertarians are on Eric Garner selling untaxed cigarettes.  Shouldn’t they be shouting from the rooftops that the guy’s a hero for bucking our unjust tax system?!


So who is policing the police? 


Timothy Loehmann, the police officer who shot Tamir Rice within two seconds of pulling up on him, had resigned from a previous police job after a supervisor described him as "distracted and weepy" and "emotionally immature."


Another supervisor detailed what they called "a pattern of lack of maturity, indiscretion and not following instructions," a "dangerous loss of composure during live range training" and an "inability to manage personal stress."


"I do not believe time, nor training, will be able to change or correct these deficiencies," Independence Deputy Chief Jim Polak wrote in a November 2012 memo. "Ptl. Loehmann's inability to perform basic functions as instructed, and his inability to emotionally function because of a personal situation at home with an on and off again girlfriend leads one to believe that he would not be able to substantially cope, or make good decisions, during or resulting from any other stressful situation," Polok wrote.


Another memo from a sergeant who worked with Loehmann at a shooting range described the officer as "distracted," "not fit to return" after an emotional outburst and someone who was "not following simple instructions."


Loehmann joined the Cleveland Police Department in March. A Cleveland Police spokesman said his department didn't review the officer's personnel file from Independence, Ohio, a suburb south of Cleveland. Detectives did speak with the Independence human resources director.


"During that interview detectives inquired if there were any disciplinary actions or incidents that Cleveland Police should be aware of prior to hiring Loehmann, at which point they were told there were none," Sgt. Ali Pillow said. "The reason for departure indicated was resignation. Officer Loehmann indicated that he resigned for personal reasons, which was substantiated by the City of Independence."


An Independence spokeswoman said in a statement that the city had made all personnel files for Loehmann available.


Again, WHO IS POLICING THE POLICE?  We’re not talking about hiring a high school kid to sling ice cream at Dairy Queen for the summer.  These people hold in their hands the lives of the public and fellow officers every day.  Both the City of Independence and Cleveland should be ashamed of themselves for not honestly addressing Timothy Loehmann's mental issues. Shit, the City of Cleveland did not even bother to read his personnel file!  Getting hired at Costco requires a more in-depth look into one’s background than this bullshit.  This isn’t just about race.  It’s about incompetence and accountability.  Why did no one in the Cleveland Police Department catch that this man was mentally unstable? 


My brother could be Tamir Rice.  Tamir Rice could be him.  The kid lost his life in a matter of two seconds.  Two seconds.  They didn’t even give him a chance to put his hands up and say, “Stop, don’t shoot!”  This epidemic of violence hurts everyone, and it’s nothing new.    It’s exploded now because black, white, Asian, Latino, or whatever, people are fed up, and rightfully so.  “Don’t break the law and you’ll have nothing to be afraid of,” is bullshit.   The militarization of American police forces is a scary thing.  The idea that America holds itself to a higher standard and is morally superior to the rest of the world is bullshit too. 


When you look at our picture what do you see?   “Thug” or smiling country kid who’s never committed a crime in his life?  Black lives DO matter.  They matter just as much as any other human life.  It’s become clear to me that many people in American society believe my brother’s life doesn’t matter.  Post-racial society my ass. He’s a threat no matter where he lives or what he’s wearing.  I’m glad he’s still alive.  But every day I carry the fear that he may die just for existing.  For simply being who he is.  A kind, intelligent, hardworking  Black man who loves his family and wants to live his life in peace. 








© 2014 Aleita Hermanowski All rights reserved.